Community members invited to participate in Reimagining Rural program

Msu News Service
Thursday, September 8, 2022

BOZEMAN — Citizens of 16 rural Montana communities are invited to participate in the third annual Reimagining Rural virtual gathering set for three evenings this fall. Reimagining Rural is a program offered through Montana State University Extension that invites community members in small towns to hear new ideas for rural community vitality. The events are meant to inspire and motivate attendees to imagine a brighter future for their towns.

The Reimagining Rural virtual gathering includes three statewide sessions, which are broadcast via Zoom to groups gathered in-person in participating towns. Following each session’s speakers, local groups will have a facilitated conversation about how new ideas might work in their communities.

Participating communities include Boulder, Cascade, Columbus, Cut Bank, Forsyth, Glasgow, Glendive, Lewistown, Malta, Rudyard, Terry, Valier, Wheatland County, Whitehall, Wibaux and Worden/Ballantine.

Reimagining Rural also aims to help communities connect across the state.

“Participation in the program will allow our community to be a part of a larger rural conversation,” said Mandie Reed, MSU Extension agent in Wheatland County, who is part of the Reimagining Rural planning team.

Ten of the 16 communities have previously participated. Walter Switzer of Worden said his community re-applied because of the program’s positive impact.

“We wanted to continue the momentum from last year,” Switzer said. “It is amazing what happens when people get together, know there is hope and start to make and carry out an action plan.”

Each program date features different speakers and interactions among communities. On Sept. 8, Tara Mastel of MSU Extension will share research on the rural “brain gain,” including who is moving to rural Montana communities and why. The Sept. 22 session will feature small-town experts Becky McCray and Deb Brown, who will share what they call an “idea-friendly method” for getting things done in small towns without red tape. The Oct. 6 session will feature rural Montana community leaders who will summarize completed, innovative projects, including a cooperative funding model for housing rehabilitation.

Sessions will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sept. 8, Sept. 22 and Oct. 6. Community members interested in participating may contact their local MSU Extension office for information. For program information, visit msuextension.org/communitydevelopment/ reimagine- rural.html or contact Mastel at tara.mastel@montana. edu.

Reimagining Rural is supported through MSU Extension, the Montana Community Foundation, Northwest Farm Credit Services, First Interstate Bank Foundation and local hosts.

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